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UK Confidential Tuesday, 2 January, 2001, 19:00 GMT
Attack on 'facile' Eva Peron revealed
Eva and her husband  President Juan Peron
Eva Peron attacked for 'fatal self pre-occupation'
Former first lady of Argentina Eva Peron was portrayed as a vain and facile woman, by a British diplomat in the 1950s, newly published documents reveal.

Sir John Balfour, the British Ambassador to Buenos Aires, was clearly unimpressed by President Juan Peron's wife, according to the report of a party he attended, hosted by Eva Peron in 1950.

The celebration was held to mark the maiden voyage of a cruise liner named after her.


It was not easy to carry on sustained talk with the Senora

Sir John Balfour
But the former actress showed a "fatal self-preoccupation", Sir John concluded after a conversation which included a debate on the merits of both countries' social security systems.

Responsibility

Sir John wrote to the Foreign Office: "It was not easy to carry on sustained talk with the Senora, not only because a number of other guests from time to time came up to greet her, but also because she herself, whenever she made a remark to me which pleased her, was apt to repeat it either to the President or to the Vice President.

"`You must,' I said to her `find your position of responsibility a great burden'."

Madonna takes the title role in Evita
Madonna starred as Evita

"`Responsibility,' she exclaimed with an air of unfeigned surprise, `but I am nothing. I am only the lowest kitchen maid. I am the one who peels the potatoes for the chef - isn't that true?' she asked Peron."

The first lady, whose life was dramatised in Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical Evita, told Sir John she was "only 29 years old" and that Peron did not intend to seek re-election in 1952.

The Eton and Oxford-educated Ambassador described her delight at an "exuberant but by no means technically incompetent rhymed eulogy" handed to her by an admirer, and how the Minister of the Interior "grinned obsequious approval" when called to her side.

Top brass

The lunch party, held on the elaborate liner on 27 May, 1950, was also attended by Peron, members of the Argentine cabinet and military top brass.

Sir John's report was dubbed "a most interesting analysis of a dangerous but very remarkable woman" by Foreign Office mandarins in London.

One commented: "I find it difficult to believe that the Perons are prepared to go into tranquil retirement after 1952."

Links to more UK Confidential stories are at the foot of the page.


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